In the South Hams Federation we aim to provide children with an integrated and systematic programme of learning letters and sounds through speaking and listening, reading and writing.

The teaching of Phonics is based upon curriculum guidance in Letters and Sounds and the Foundation Stage curriculum, providing children with:

A daily phonics session, based on a model of review, introduction of new learning, practice and application of knowledge;

Focused directed teaching involving oral and written practice of letters and sounds;

A variety of teaching methods, including demonstration, modelling, games, singing and other practical activities.


  • To ensure a consistent and systematic approach to the teaching and learning of phonics.
  • To provide opportunities for pupils to have daily oral and written practice to increase phonic knowledge and handwriting skills.
  • To encourage pupils to implement their phonic knowledge in all reading, writing and spelling activities across the curriculum.
  • Apply the skill of blending phonemes in order to read words.
  • Segment words into their constituent phonemes in order to spell words.
  • Learn that blending and segmenting words are reversible processes.
  • Read high frequency words that do not conform to regular phonic patterns.
  • Read texts and words that are within their phonic capabilities as early as possible.
  • Decode texts effortlessly so all their resources can be used to comprehend what they read.


In the South Hams Federation, synthetic phonics is taught as the main approach to early reading. Daily phonics sessions are taught from Reception through to Year 2. These sessions follow the government published programme ‘Letters and Sounds’.

A session is a daily 20-minute structured lesson, where the children have the opportunity to practice reading and writing using their blending and segmenting skills within a range of contexts.

‘Letters and Sounds’ is split into 6 phases. These are expected to be taught during the following years:

Phase 1 – Pre School

Phase 2, 3, 4 – Reception

Phase 4, 5 – Year 1

Phase 5, 6 – Year 2

Phase 1  
Showing an awareness of rhyme and alliteration. Distinguishing between sounds in the environment and phonemes. Exploring and experimenting with sounds and words. Discriminating speech sounds in words. Beginning to orally blend and segment phonemes.

Phase 2 

Blending for reading and segmenting for spelling simple cvc words.

Letter sets

Set 1 – s, a, t, p,

Set 2 – l, n, m, d,

Set 3 – g, o, c, k,

Set 4 – ck, e, u, r,

Set 5 – h, b, f, ff, l, ll, ss,

Phase 3 

Knowing one grapheme for each of the 44 phonemes.

Letter sets:

Set 6 – j, v, w, x

Set 7 – y, z, zz, qu


ear, air, ure, er, ar, or, ur, ow, oi,

ai, ee, igh, oa, oo

Consonant digraphs:

ch, sh, th, ng.

Phase 4 

This is a consolidation unit. There are no new graphemes to learn but the children learn how read longer words such as stamp, plug, flag, twig.
Phase 5 


ay, ou, ie, ea, oy, ir, ue, aw, wh, ph, ew, oe, au, a-e, e-e, i-e, o-e, u-e.

Alternative pronunciations  for:

i, o, c, g, u, ow, ie, ea, er, a, y, ch, ou

Phase 6  

At this stage children should be able to spell words phonemically although not always correctly. The main aim of this phase is to help children become more fluent readers and more accurate spellers.
At each phase children are taught to recognise individual sounds, pairs and clusters of letters. In phonic sessions children are taught to recognise letters, understand the sound they make and then blend them together to create words.

Some words, which cannot be phonetically sounded out, are taught at each phase. These are ‘tricky words’ and are taught through sight recognition. These words are displayed in each classroom to support sight recognition and use when writing.


During daily sessions teachers assess children’s understanding and address any misconceptions that they may have.

In Reception children will be assessed every half term and this assessment will be recorded in their English book to show progress, where revision needs to take place and next steps for learning.

In Year 1 termly assessment of phonic recognition to allow planning for next steps.

Half Termly Reading Benchmarking records phonic and Key word errors when reading, to allow teachers to plan next steps for individuals.

Daily marking across the curriculum allows for assessment of the application of phonic knowledge and any misconceptions which need to be addressed as a class or individually.

In 2012 a statutory check was introduced in Year 1. The check assesses phonics knowledge learnt in Reception (phase 3) and in Year 1 (phase 4,5). It was developed to help identify the children who need extra help with decoding and blending before they begin Year 2.


Through robust and continuous assessment of children’s phonic progress teachers will be able to identify those with additional needs, including those with specific learning difficulties. These children will require immediate and sustained additional support to close the gap with their peers.

Phonics intervention will run alongside daily phonic sessions so that the gap does not grow for those children who are receiving short term targeted interventions.

Questions to consider to create personal intervention plans

  • Does the child use the first letter to decode a new word?
  • Is the child confusing letter sounds and making mistakes for that reason?
  • Does the child attempt to sound out every single word in the book?
  • Is the child misreading digraphs or blends?
  • Does the child understand how to use short vowels?  Long vowels?
  • Does the child look for patterns and recognise word chunks?
  • How does the child attempt multi-syllabic words?

Phonics across the Curriculum

Phonics is taught as discrete sessions and is integrated into all curriculum areas. Practitioners clearly model how to apply phonic knowledge in reading and writing.
Phonics is demonstrated as the primary strategy for encoding and decoding words. This is the expectation in all subjects but is particularly pertinent in shared and guided reading and writing.

Phonics at Home

Each week the class teacher will put a weekly plan slip in every child’s reading diary. This will indicate the phonics that are included in the daily phonics session alongside previous learning.

In Reception sound cards are sent home each week to support parents to help children to practise the sounds at home. Suggestions are given as to the words that can be made.

Online reading books are linked to the sounds that the children will be learning/ using in their daily phonic session. Reading these texts at home and revisiting the sounds will cement tem in your child’s long term memory.

There are many great websites and apps to help support phonics learning at home.

Intended Impact 

Through the teaching of systematic phonics, our aim is for children to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One. This way, children can focus on developing their fluency and comprehension as they move through the school and access knowledge through a broad and balanced curriculum.

Continued AFL and summative assessment points will allow teachers to plan to address any misconceptions and make sure that all pupils systematically learn the phonemes and graphemes.

Attainment in phonics is measured by the Phonics Screening Test at the end of Year 1.

Phonics Vocabulary 

Phoneme – The smallest unit of sound. There are approximately 44 phonemes in English (it depends on different accents). Phonemes can be put together to make words.

Grapheme – A way of writing down a phoneme. Graphemes can be made up from 1 letter e.g. p, 2 letters e.g. sh, 3 letters e.g. tch or 4 letters e.g ough.

GPC – This is short for Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence. Knowing a GPC means being able to match a phoneme to a grapheme and vice versa.

Digraph – A grapheme containing two letters that makes just one sound (phoneme).

Trigraph – A grapheme containing three letters that makes just one sound (phoneme).

Blending– This involves looking at a written word, looking at each grapheme and using knowledge of GPCs to work out which phoneme each grapheme represents and then merging these phonemes together to make a word.

Segmenting – This involves hearing a word, splitting it up into the phonemes (sound talk/sounding out) that make it, using knowledge of GPCs to work out which graphemes represent those phonemes and then writing those graphemes down in the right order.